The journey between brain and gut: A systematic review of psychological mechanisms of treatment effect in irritable bowel syndrome

Sula Windgassen,  Rona Moss‐Morris, Joseph Chilcot, Alice Sibelli 

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First published: 01 June 2017




Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. It is estimated to affect 10–22% of the UK population. The use of psychological interventions in IBS is increasingly empirically supported, but little is known about the mechanism of psychological treatment approaches. The present systematic review aimed to investigate the mechanisms of psychological treatment approaches applied to IBS.

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EEG Patterns and Hypnotizability 

By D. Corydon Hammond, PhD, ABPH, ECNS, QEEG-D

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT


After reviewing the relationship of hypnotizability and EEG activity, a discussion follows of how modifying EEG activity may increase hypnotic responsiveness. This is followed by a brief summary of the relationship of hypnotizability to clinical symptoms. Relationship of Hypnotic Responsiveness and EEG Activity. There have been many studies on the relationship of brainwave activity and hypnotic responsiveness. We certainly do not have all the answers yet, but this is a fascinating body of literature. The situation is made even more complex by the fact that the brain’s activity differs in hypnosis depending on the nature of the suggestions (e.g., for pain relief, relaxation, hallucinations, etc.).

There is considerable evidence that greater theta brainwave activity is found in high hypnotizable individuals both in and out of hypnosis. Furthermore, low and high hypnotizable persons experience an increase in theta brainwaves when going into hypnosis. Crawford (1990), for example, reported that high hypnotizable persons exhibited significantly greater power in the higher theta range (5.5–7.5 Hz) than persons low
in hypnotic responsivity.

Schacter (1977) described two types of theta brainwaves: theta associated with feelings of drowsiness, and another type of theta brainwave associated with focused attention and involved in
complex problem solving (e.g., mental arithmetic). He believed that enhanced theta activity during problem solving represented “a combination of selective, narrowly focused processing, and intensive ‘mental effort’” (p. 59). This kind of theta has been interpreted as demonstrating strongly focused attention (e.g.,
Inouye, Ishihara, & Shinosaki, 1984, 1985; Mizuki, 1987; Mizuki, Tanaka, Isozaki, & Inanaga, 1976; Mizuki, Tanaka, Isozaki, Nishijima, & Inanaga, 1980), and we commonly define hypnosis as being a state of focused attention and concentration (Hammond, 1998).

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Tranceformations: hypnosis in brain and body


In this review, the role of hypnosis and related psychotherapeutic techniques are discussed in relation to the anxiety disorders. In particular, anxiety is addressed as a special form of mind/body problem involving reverberating interaction between mental and physical distress. The history of hypnosis as a therapeutic discipline is reviewed, after which neurobiological evidence of the effect of hypnosis on modulation of perception in the brain. Specific brain regions involved in hypnosis are reviewed, notably the dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The importance of hypnotizability as a trait, stable variability in hypnotic responsiveness, is discussed. Analogies between the hypnotic state and dissociative reactions to trauma are presented, and the uses of hypnosis in treating posttraumatic stress disorder, stressful situations, and phobias as well as outcome data are reviewed. Effects of hypnosis on control of somatic processes are discussed, and then effects of psychosocial support involving Supportive-Expressive Group Therapy and hypnosis on survival time for cancer patients are evaluated. The evidence indicates an important role for hypnosis in managing anxiety disorders and anxiety related to medical illness.

Self-hypnosis training for in-hospital chronic pain patients : A retrolective observational study



Hypnosis is probably one of the oldest therapies known to man. In the last decades modern hypnosis has mainly been used by psychotherapists; however, hypnosis is becoming increasingly more important as a therapeutic method in medicine. Hypnosis can be used for a variety of medical indications. In the literature there is much evidence for the effectiveness of hypnosis. The aim of the present investigation was to demonstrate the effectiveness of hypnosis in inpatient treatment of chronic pain patients and to present a self-hypnosis program, which can be easily integrated into pain therapy.

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